Earlier this week, my friend showed up at my door with a loaf of sweet french bread to distract me from an overwhelming work project I've been consumed with. She enticed me to have some fun exploring bread puddings for this week's contest. After discussing some ideas, we each embarked on a recipe (hers is the creative chai bread budding-- which turned out really yummy)...I had recently been to a tapas restaurant where I'd indulged in a simple butter cake topped with a crisp bruleéd layer of sugar served alongside a smattering of caramelized fresh fruit. My imagination was sparked by this sophisticated deconstruction of an old-fashioned upside down pineapple cake. I pondered inverted desserts and apple tarte tartin also came to mind. What makes these sorts of desserts so divine? The deep, rich, buttery caramel flavors contrasted with a simple cake, crust or bread-y base, and juicy, seasonal fruit. We whipped out a bunch of ingredients, she ran back to her house to get these luscious pears for me, I ran out to the store, and the festivities were on! —kaykay
Upside Down Bread Pudding with Carmelized Pears
light brown sugar
light corn syrup
1.5 - 2
ripe pears, peeled and sliced
pecans, toasted and chopped
large croissants, cut crosswise into 1-inch slices
Place croissant slices on a cookie sheet and toast in oven until lightly toasted, about 4-10 minutes depending on the freshness of croissants. Remove from oven to cool.
In a 10.5 inch cast iron pan over medium low heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar and corn syrup and stir until blended and bubbling. Remove from heat.
Arrange peeled and sliced pears in a circular pattern. Sprinkle with pecans and set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
Place toasted croissant pieces evenly in prepared pan. Pour milk mixture over the croissants. Using a spatula, gently press croissants into liquid.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until custard is set.
Remove from oven and cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Place a platter on top of the pan and invert bread pudding onto the platter. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes more. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Brandied Custard Sauce
In a saucepan, heat milk and sugar almost to a boil. Break eggs into a blender. While the eggs whirl, add hot milk. Add vanilla and brandy. The custard may be ready at this stage, but if it needs to be thickened, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly. If lumps form, strain custard through a sieve or whirl it through the blender once more.
I love cooking because you don't have to follow rules.
I have dessert after breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I'd choose cioppino over fettucine alfredo any day.
I love that my 6 and 9 year old daughters are epicurean adventurers and will plow through a huge bowl of mussels, sweat their way through Indian curry, or savor raw sushi.
I can't pick my favorite meal until the end. Then, I will reflect back and choose one that truly stood out after after a lifetime of culinary indulgence.